Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant and possibly the largest company in that sector in the world, has been barred by the Australian government from supplying equipment to the national broadband network (NBN) which will shortly totally dominate Australian telecoms.
Huawei Technologies, which is close to becoming the world's largest telecommunications equipment provider, was advised late last year that it could not tender for NBN contracts because of concerns about cyber attacks coming from China. That came from the Australian intelligence agencies.
A spokesman for Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the $36 billion NBN was the ‘backbone of Australia's information infrastructure’ and as such the government had a responsibility ‘to do our utmost to protect its integrity and that of the information carried on it’.
Huawei is not taking this lying down.
The Austrlian federal parliamentary interests register shows Huawei has been courting senior coalition figures and giving them free trips to China. Some also appear to have been given free computers.
A Huawei Australia spokesman said it had issued an open invitation to all members of parliament, and the media, to tour its facilities. (What they will learn from such visits is a matter of conjecture. The computer sophistication level of the average Australian politician is not high.)
Huawei was established in the late 1980s by Ren Zhengfei, a former major in the People's Liberation Army, and is headquartered in the special economic zone of Shenzen. Its Australian office opened in 2004 in Sydney and is the operations hub for its business across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.